TAHOLAH - The first time that these two teams met, in early December, the game turned into a scoring battle, with the Taholah Chitwins scoring 82 points, while the Comets managed their second best scoring game of the season with 67 points.
The rematch of the two teams in their Pacific League boys basketball game played in Taholah Friday, Jan. 23, did not produce the same offensive fireworks by either team, as the Chitwins came on strong in the third quarter and held on for the 62-53 win. The loss dropped the Comets' league record to 4-7 and 4-11 overall. The Chitwins are in third place in the league, following Northwest Christian and Willapa Valley.
NHS used a good first half to earn a seven point lead at the intermission. That lead had come from a close first quarter with Taholah leading 13-12 and a strong Naselle second quarter where they outscored the Chitwins 16-8 for their lead
"We had a 28-17 lead with one minute left in the half," said coach Ryan Bjornsgard, "but then we made some turnovers and they started to come back. That continued into the third period."
The Comets were not able to hang on to the ball in the third period as they gave up the ball ten times in the third period alone.
"A lot of our turnovers were unforced," said Bjornsgard. "They took the ball from us, made a big run and held on."
The errors helped the Chitwins to a 21-8 third quarter advantage and a 42-36 lead after three periods.
NHS settled down in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late as the teams battled on nearly even terms with the Chitwins on top 20-17. Those points completed Taholah's 62-53 win over the Comets.
Naselle had three players in double figures, led by Aoy Marion with a game high 16. Evan Hendrickson added 15 and Ricky Johnson 14 points. The rest of the Comets, only scored a total of 8 points. Naselle's rebounding effort was well distributed as Ricky Johnson and Greg Queener each pulled down 7 boards, and Dan White added 6.
The Chitwins had four players in double figures, led by David Chambers with 15, Chad Ralston added 13, and Kyle Kautz and Albert Smith scored 10 apiece.
"Our defense worked to hold Albert Smith down," said Bjornsgard. "We were able to do that, especially when he got into early foul trouble, but Chambers and Ralston picked it up for them. Our turnovers cost us points at crucial times, but I can't fault our effort, especially after we played three games in four nights.
In the "for what its worth" department, the Seattle Times Class B State Basketball Rankings of Jan. 20 listed three Southwest Washington boys teams among their top 16 ranked state B teams. The top 16 list included Cathlamet-5th, Northwest Christian-6th and Willapa Valley-7th, as well as Taholah as one of the teams "on the bubble."
If the rankings are anywhere near accurate, it could make for a very interesting Southwest Washington District Tournament, where only the top two teams earn the right to advance to be one of the final 16 teams in the State Tournament. Last year's three SWW boys teams did not place at state, the only district to do so.
Naselle 12 16 8 17 - 53
Taholah 13 8 21 20 - 62
Naselle (53) - Aoy Marion 16, Hendrickson 15, Johnson 14, White 4, Queener 2, Williams 2, Mendoza; Shooting: FG- 21 of 64 = 33 percent, 3's- 7 of 23, FT- 4 of 6 ; Team Rebounds 33: Johnson 7, Queener 7, White 6, Mendoza 6, Marion 4; Assists: Marion 5; Team turnovers: 23
Taholah (62) - David Chambers 15, Ralston 13, Kautz 10, Smith 10, Newton 8, Charley 6; Shooting: 27 of 62 = 44 percent, 3's- 4/12, FT- 4/8; Team rebounds: 33; Team turnovers: 16